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Kuwait, one of the wealthiest countries in the Arabian Gulf and the world, has nutritional problems that vary from undernourishment-related anemia to overnourishment (overweight), associated withhealth complications such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases (Ministry of Health, 1996). Previous studies reported the prevalence of obesity among Kuwaiti school children as 18 per cent and 27 per cent for boys and girls, respectively (Eid etal., 1986), and anemia in about 75 per cent of children aged 1–24 months and 40.7 per cent for those aged 25–60 months (Mostafa and Nuwayhed, 1979). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of infant feeding practices and mothers'education and occupation on hemoglobin (Hb) levels and obesity among young children in Kuwait. Data previously collected (January through November 2000) by the Department of Food and Nutrition Administration of the Ministry of Health from 254 apparently healthy mothers and their infants (127 boys, 127 girls) aged 2–23 months, in all five Governates was used. The lengths, weights, and Hb levels of infants were measured and mothers were asked about their infant feeding practices, number of pregnancies, educational level, and occupation. The prevalence of anemia among Kuwaiti infants in this study was significantly (p=0.004) higher (29.5%) than that reported for American infants, 18.4 per cent (DHHS 1997). Formula-fed Kuwaiti infants were significantly (P<0.001) heavier (9.38±2.35) than the breast and mixed-fed group(7.98±1.75). Our findings suggest that programs for the prevention and control of obesity and anemia in Kuwait should be a priority on the national nutrition and health agenda.

Keywords: Kuwait; anemia; infant; infant feeding; obesity; underweight

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/714858429

Affiliations: Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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